It’s time. Heck, it might be past time, but we’re finally doing it!
We’ve started a #KSed Twitter chat to talk about all things
in Kansas teaching and learning!
And you’re invited. You are all invited!
So… a Twitter chat? You may be puzzling about what in the heck that is and how it’s different from “regular Twitter.” Maybe you’ve heard about twitter chats, or even seen a # cross your Twitter feed, but haven’t had the gumption to jump aboard, unsure of the “rules” or if you were even invited. Or maybe most of your Social Media interactions happen over on Facebook and while you have a Twitter account, you haven’t looked at it in a while.
That’s ok! This post is for you! We’ll get your twitter accounts, terminology, and etiquette all brushed up and ready to go for the #KSed opening Twitter chat on April 15, at 7:30pm (Central time, in case anyone in Goodland, KS out there in Mountain time, was wondering).
Edit: #ksed Twitter chats are now held at 8pm, but still on Monday’s. (edited, Feb 2014)
You see, I fully believe that it’s ok to not yet know. It’s also ok to know, and choose to not use Twitter. What is NOT ok is to not know at all.
One note: If you know nothing at all about Twitter other than the name, you may want to check out these resources to get yourself started.
Now that the basics are taken care of, let’s get started!
What is a Twitter chat?
Sometimes we just want to get together with other folks to share and learn through conversation. When we do that on Twitter, we grab a unique hashtag (#) to filter out the rest of the Twitter world so we can concentrate on the topic of our choice. When these conversations become regular events, we call them “Twitter chats.”
Twitter chats are regularly scheduled conversational events with a set topic. Often, they’re moderated, which means they have a “host” to the event. Most Twitter chats are scheduled weekly or bi-weekly, last an hour, and will cover 4-8 guiding questions per meeting. The questions are meant to draw out conversation while providing some direction for all the participants.
Our #KSed Twitter chat, held Monday’s at 7:30pm Central, will use a format of Q1) A1), which means that the moderator, @ksedmod, will ask the first question, using the guide of Q1) and then participants are encouraged use A1) for answering question #1. This is so folks can keep track of who’s responding to what question.
How do I get started?
A few days in advance, sign up for a free Twitter account. If you already have one — and I cannot emphasize this enough — be sure you have a profile photo and brief bio noting that you’re a teacher or educator of some sort. Some folks don’t want to follow just anyone; they want to be sure they’re developing their online Professional/Personal Learning Network (PLN) with other educators.
If you’ve not really used Twitter much, you might also like to brush up on some basic Twitter etiquette tips & tricks a few days before the chat is scheduled and toss out a few re-acquainting tweets. Not sure what to say? Look to see what others are tweeting and send out something similar or just say, “getting back into the swing of things here” and other educators will be welcoming to you.
Be sure to follow the chat host (@KSedmod). Do a search for the #KSed feed, browsing over the people already there. If you like what you see, or know someone, go right ahead and follow them. We’re a friendly bunch!
Are there other educational Twitter chats too?
Heck, there are hundreds of them for all types of educational topics! If you’re bold and ready to go deeper, you could check out some other Twitter chats, based on your interests. Cybraryman (Jerry Blumengarten, who is a really great resource guy) has a HUGE list of live chats related to all aspects of education. If you click on a day of the week you’re available, you’ll see a schedule for that day. For instance, here’s Monday’s list.
**word to the wise: check out the chat feed of your selected hashtag first before you cancel an appointment to sit at your computer. Cybraryman has a rather large job archiving all things educational and he might have missed one that has recently died. While he does an amazing job keeping up to date, it’s still possible.
What are some tools for making it easy?
While you could try to follow a live chat right in your regular Twitter page, it’s not easy, especially if there is a rousing conversation happening (and how could there not be, talking about teaching and learning in Kansas!). It would be easy to get lost and frustrated. So consider playing with and testing out one of the following tools ahead of time:
Tweetchat.comThis one doesn’t work any more (edited, Feb 2014)
Just like some people like vanilla and some prefer chocolate, these tools just depend on your own style. I prefer to use Tweetchat myself, but there are great recommendations for all of these tools.
Additionally, some folks use their Twitter client (client = tool) such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. In fact, just this morning, as I was double checking the above links, a new friend from my Gifted Education community tweeted this to me:
What she did was follow the moderator of the chat in one column so she didn’t miss any of the questions and then in another column, she followed the hashtag for the chat. It’s a great solution and many people like to use both Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to do this.
Again, I cannot stress enough that you should really try these tools out with either #KSed or another hashtag before the event starts. Maybe even a couple days. I’d hate for you to miss the event due to last-minute unexpected failure. [insert sad face]
So it’s approaching 7:30pm, Monday nite. What do I do?
If you’re brand new to Twitter chats, log into your account, open up your selected tool, then search for the #KSed hashtag. You might consider posting on your stream that for the next hour or so, your tweets will be dedicated to a #KSed live chat. This is so your regular Twitter friends don’t think you’ve gone super-crazy talking to yourself (they might not know about the #KSed chat and most won’t be participating in it). Then just wait for the @KSedmod to welcome everyone.
The @KSedmod (moderator for #KSed) will start the chat by asking the participants to share a little bit about who/where you are. Some people will give a lot of info. Some will just say they’re an interested teacher in Central Kansas (or whatever). I encourage you to share where you are and what you do for a living. After all, the community is about sharing, getting to know each other, and leveraging these connections for a better education for our kids. But you share what you feel comfortable sharing. It’s ok. Remember vanilla and chocolate? Same thing here.
You may see there are non-Kansans in the chat too. It’s ok. We’re going to talk about teaching and learning in Kansas, and believe it or not, we do have some of the same struggles and triumphs as other educators in other states and even countries.
Then questions will be posted in the Q1) format. You can respond by typing A1) first, then your answer. Don’t forget to add #KSed to your responses or we’ll not see your answers unless you’re friends with everyone in the chat. Which you probably aren’t.
The conversation will go for about an hour and then we’re finished. Easy as that!
One more very important thing I’d like to add: while it’s very difficult to separate education topics from political topics, especially in Kansas, we’d like to purposefully create as politically-neutral environment as possible. We’re about coming together and finding commonalities. NOT about dividing ourselves. That’s not to mean we can’t have rousing debates. Sure, that’s half the fun! We’ll just try to keep the politics to the side at every chance possible. And if you start to feel your blood boil, take a step back, draw in a deep breath and ponder the fact that as educators, we’re all on the same side here. We’re all doing everything we can to educate our kids.
I hope this has been a useful introduction for you as we prepare for this inaugural Twitter chat for Kansas educators. As a long-time Twitter user (member since April 2007), I cannot be happier to be writing this nor more honored to be acting as the first #KSed moderator. I say, welcome!
If your question wasn’t answered here, or if you’re still confused, please do post your question in the comments. I will get a satisfactory answer for you! Or you could TWEET me your question here: @GingerLewman
- Part II of Why I Love Twitter: Twitter Chats (whatteachersmakeblog.wordpress.com)
- Using TweetChat to Follow Educational Twitter Chats (speedofcreativity.org)
- Tweetchats – What are they? Why try them? (scalablesocialmedia.com)
- Twitter Chats – Why and How (parentschoolpartners.wordpress.com)